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Heroic Efforts

By Ximena Gonzàlez

Photo by Vicky Mittal

Photo courtesy of Edmonton Mural Festival

Heroic Efforts - FeatureImage_Heroic-Efforts-a-Mural-painted-as-part-of-the-Edmonton-Mural-Festival

In an environment designed for cars, in downtown Edmonton, a new mural enlivens the intersection of 104 Street NW and 103 Avenue NW. Using the former blank wall of a six-storey parkade as a canvas, three artists transformed a nondescript landscape into a statement of hope and strength. Part of the inaugural year of the Edmonton Mural Festival, The Hero is one of 10 murals painted across the city this past September. It’s the first collaboration between Bernhard Suryaningrat, an Indonesian graffiti artist also known as Hardthirteen, and Annaliza Toledo and Trevor Peters of Rust Magic International, a multidisciplinary art agency based in Edmonton and Bali.

Evoking the work of other socially minded artists such as Eric Almanza, a Chicanx figurative painter based in California, the trio opted for a vivid colour palette that drastically changes the energy of its surroundings and attracts the attention of passersby. “It was a six-storey blank wall that nobody could interact with,” says Peters, “and now it’s a six-storey symbol that people can admire.”

Together, the trio brought to life a vision of bravery that invokes a more hopeful future for Indigenous women and girls. “This is such an important project for us moving forward,” says Toledo. “This is a stepping stone for us to do projects that question, raise conversations, build awareness and shed light on issues that affect everybody.”

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Born and raised in Edmonton, Peters (who is Cree) and Toledo work toward the preservation of graffiti and urban art history through their artistic practice, as the presence of graffiti in public spaces is often misunderstood.

Through The Hero, the artists use graffiti art to challenge clichés and invite viewers to reconsider their positions. “We know graffiti as an art form,” says Peters, who’s been a graffiti artist since 1994. “It’s one of the largest art movements of our time.”

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